Seemingly doubling down on his comments in April (following what he called Europe’s “flawed asylum policy”), George Soros has expanded his demands from four to seven fundamental pillars on how to prevent the collapse of the European Union.
In an article penned for Foreign Policy titled “This Is Europe’s Last Chance to Fix Its Refugee Policy,” Soros details his plan (over-riding the current “piecemeal approach”) for rescuing Europe before it is too late. Simply put, the billionaire says the EU must take in hundreds of thousands of refugees a year, spend at least 30 billion euros (a minor sum, since he believes it can all be financed by debt and taxes) or Europe faces an “existential threat.”
Soros begins ominously: The EU’s piecemeal solutions are coming apart. Only a surge of financial and political creativity can avoid a catastrophe.
The refugee crisis was already leading to the slow disintegration of the European Union. Then, on June 23, it contributed to an even greater calamity — Brexit. Both of these crises have reinforced xenophobic, nationalist movements across the continent. They will try to win a series of key votes in the coming year — including national elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany in 2017, a referendum in Hungary on EU refugee policy on Oct. 2, a rerun of the Austrian presidential election on the same day, and a constitutional referendum in Italy in October or November of this year.
Rather than uniting to resist this threat, EU member states have become increasingly unwilling to cooperate with one another. They pursue self-serving, discordant migration policies, often to the detriment of their neighbors. In these circumstances, a comprehensive and coherent European asylum policy is not possible in the short term, despite the efforts of the EU’s governing body, the European Commission. The trust needed for cooperation is lacking. It will have to be rebuilt through a long and laborious process.
This is unfortunate, because a comprehensive policy ought to remain the highest priority for European leaders; the union cannot survive without it. The refugee crisis is not a one-off event; it augurs a period of higher migration pressures for the foreseeable future, due to a variety of causes including demographic and economic imbalances between Europe and Africa, unending conflicts in the broader region, and climate change. Beggar-thy-neighbor migration policies, such as building border fences, will not only further fragment the union; they also seriously damage European economies and subvert global human rights standards.
What would a comprehensive approach look like? It would establish a guaranteed target of at least 300,000 refugees each year who would be securely resettled directly to Europe from the Middle East — a total that hopefully would be matched by countries elsewhere in the world. That target should be large enough to persuade genuine asylum-seekers not to risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, especially if reaching Europe by irregular means would disqualify them from being considered genuine asylum-seekers.
This could serve as the basis for Europe to provide sufficient funds for major refugee-hosting countries outside Europe and establish processing centers in those countries; create a potent EU border and coast guard; set common standards for processing and integrating asylum-seekers (and for returning those who do not qualify); and renegotiate the Dublin III Regulation in order to more fairly share the asylum burden across the EU.
And, as ValueWalk’s Jacob Wolinksy notes, specifically Soros thinks the seven points below are key…
First, the EU and the rest of the world must take in a substantial number of refugees directly from front-line countries in a secure and orderly manner, which would be far more acceptable to the public than the current disorder…
Second, the EU must regain control of its borders. There is little that alienates and scares publics more than scenes of chaos…
Third, the EU needs to develop financial tools that can provide sufficient funds for the long-term challenges it facesand not limp from episode to episode…
Fourth, the crisis must be used to build common European mechanisms for protecting borders, determining asylum claims, and relocating refugees…
Fifth, once refugees have been recognized, there needs to be a mechanism for relocating them within Europe in an agreed way…
Sixth, the European Union, together with the international community, must support foreign refugee-hosting countries far more generously than it currently does…
The seventh and final pillar is that, given its aging population, Europe must eventually create an environment in which economic migration is welcome.
Soros concludes as follows:
The benefits brought by migration far outweigh the costs of integrating immigrants. Skilled economic immigrants improve productivity, generate growth, and raise the absorptive capacity of the recipient country. Different populations bring different skills, but the contributions come as much from the innovations they introduce as from their specific skills — in both their countries of origin and their countries of destination. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence for this, starting with the Huguenots’ contribution to the first industrial revolution by bringing both weaving and banking to England. All the evidence supports the conclusion that migrants have a high potential to contribute to innovation and development if they are given a chance to do so.
Pursuing these seven principles is essential in order to calm public fears, reduce chaotic flows of asylum-seekers, ensure that newcomers are fully integrated, establish mutually beneficial relations with countries in the Middle East and Africa, and meet Europe’s international humanitarian obligations.
The refugee crisis is not the only crisis Europe has to face, but it is the most pressing. And if significant progress could be made on the refugee issue, it would make the other issues — from the continuing Greek debt crisis to the fallout from Brexit to the challenge posed by Russia — easier to tackle. All the pieces need to fit together, and the chances of success remain slim. But as long as there is a strategy that might succeed, all the people who want the European Union to survive should rally behind it.
Interestingly, Soros goes back hundreds of years to give us the examples Huguenots and not fifty years to when France starting letting in migrants from Algeria and Morocco – so far the much recent plan has been a failure most would agree even before the recent terror attack in Nice. While hope continues to spring eternal (for many establishmentarians) that the EU stays together, we can’t help but suspect that spending 30 billion euros a year (funded by taxing or indebting EU citizens more) and letting in ‘even’ 300,000 refugees a year when the social fabric of the looming super-state is near collapse, terrorist attacks are increasing, and unemployment in many European countries is in double digits – will likely be a non-starter.
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